The Low Gate
        Am I so wrapped up in what I think that what I think goes flying by like a swarm of biting midges flying recklessly around traumatized me?

        There's a loopy indiscretion of imagined subway acts and roof top love affairs, of kissing girls or boys on seedy and glamorous corners, and of having sex in Central Park and Prospect Park: He could have very easily remained a boy from the forgotten island had his mother, through a second divorce and embarking on a third before even marrying, not moved to a one bedroom  apartment on West 75th street between Columbus and Central Park West. It  was a vicious transition—sudden and inspired; but it was within weeks that his accent and guido getup left his body.
        He was saved.
        And then he was saved again.
        Through most of high school he dated a Styvesant Town girl with the biggest, meanest Irish Catholic mother.

... and then it becomes winter again, overnight.

        Knowing that he was not welcomed, Will visited his father anyhow. Ivan was, due to a financial agreement with his ex-wife, paying for Will's college tuition—and oh, what a tuition: Will chose one of the most expensive colleges to attend at over $50,000 a year. Will had to work for his own spending money—hence, his job as the gatekeeper at the security booth on campus—but he felt like his infrequent visits (and the reminder that he was, in fact, also Ivan's son) ensured that his tuition would be met without any other personal obligations. 
        Ivan, the subject of many of Will's fiction workshop stories, was a corporate attorney, a former lieutenant during Vietnam, a star hurdler in college, and a surfer—a man made of more stuff than the provincial lifestyle he had chosen for himself and his new family. There was never any doubt why Will's  mother left him—Ivan was set in his ways—a stubborn sense of how the  world functioned - and Will's mother, guided by wind, was uncontrollable,  whimsical, and impulsive.  
        Will sat at the kitchen table while Ivan's wife, a Sicilian taskmaster, cooked and Will's eldest half-brother complained about what was being made—rice balls. Will told Ivan that he would be taking a few science courses—a lie, of course—and ate what was served. Before he returned to the city, Will gifted his father a hand carved decoy duck that he bought in Shaftsbury, VT from a local artisan. He had tied a red bow around its neck. Ivan thanked his son with a pat on the back and opened his front door to let him out. 

I suspect their eyes will remain joyless and grey.

        Will drove back to the city to meet Emily at Donegal's Pub.
Donegal's was a second home of sorts. When he was 17, he had the nerve to walk in, sit at a table near the flatscreen, and order a pint of something and a bowl of potato soup. The lack of light in the bar supported his actions: Annie, the aging punk rock waitress, asked, "How old are you really? 
        And he answered, "I'm really 21."
        She responded, "If you tell me the truth, I'll serve you; if you fucking lie to me, I'll kick your underage ass out of here."
        "I'm 18," he lied, but reasonably within the realm of truth.
        She returned with a pint of McSorley's and said, "Do yourself a favor. Go up to 125th street and get a fake id."
        He never did. He never had to.

Reputations are forecasts for what's to come in some form or another.

        Emily and Will began dating in freshman year of high school. She was a cheerleader and with all the teenage boys bowing at her dancing feet, she chose Will.
        Emily selected Will even when he didn't know her... or so she said. She liked the absurdity of his presence, his ripped preppiness, his lousy taste in music, and his reputation, or lack of.  I very rarely looked in the mirror despite the fact that I knew there was something I wanted to look at.
        Emily grew to love him in that way that smart teenagers love, and Will, in his prolonged adolescence, loved her back. They cheated on and off in guilty fits, and returned to each other in the pastiness of youthful sentiments. They broke up and broke up again. They were innocent and baseless; they were drug experimenters, drinkers, and brawlers. 
        Emily met Will, as she always does, by cupping his face in her hands and kissing him, uninhibitedly, on the lips.
        "You're getting a little scruffy," she said as they sat at their table—the same table they always sat at in the back corner. "You're not going bohemian on me, are you?"
        "Just lazy," Will said as he ordered a pitcher of McSorley's.
        The bar was festive in its plastic way: Some faux garland lined the wainscoting and a small Christmas tree stood on the corner of the bar with a few twinkling lights and some lusterless tinsel. The radio was tuned to an endless list  of respectable rockers humiliating themselves to jingoistic Christmas drivel. 

Dilapidated churches. Eyesores. Detritus. Broken lanterns.

        Emily's eyes danced over Will. She was inspecting what belonged to her and she didn't much like what she saw. 
        "Still dating that crazy bitch with the big tits?" she asked. 
        "Kind of," he said. "Tried to break it off last week. Didn't fare too well."
        "Like with me."
        "Like with you." 

These silly little moments are incapable of expanding their meanings.

        "You have no heart left," Emily said as they paid the tab. 
        "Not for her. Not sure I ever had heart for her."
        "I knew it. It was for the sex."
        "I've learned a lot about the female body," he said.

I never wrote that it had anything to do with love. It all just adds to the depth of my feelings in general - so heightened. Do you really see this sense of self-preservation? Do you, Emily? Do you see what a coward I am? A "very complicated man," you say. There's nothing "complicated" about me. I'm feigning being deep. I'm a dilettante of depth.

        By the church, near the overflowing garbage can, under the broken streetlight: Emily's moon face looked up at him. She smiled the most knowing  smile he had ever seen.
        "Like what?" she asked.
        "Oh, you know."
        "Like what?"
        "I don't want to talk about this with you."
        "Well, I've learned a bit about men. I've been having killer sex with—"
        "Please spare me. I don't want to know."
        "Keen," she emphasized his name—Keeeeen. Keen sex.
        Will knew Keen. He was a Dead Head.
        "Christ."
        "What's good for the goose,..."
        "Christ."
        And on the corner of 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, early morning, Emily pressed herself into Will and the warmth of her body reminded  him that it was winter.

So, this is the place that my stuttering personality, the one after a long night of drinking, ends up, huh?

        She closed the valves of her attention and Will returned to school. 

        Frenzy is a fit of folly.

        Ivan remitted his son's tuition on time.

So, this method is meant to be interpreted, like dense, fabricated poems about imagined places and ice cream sandwiches.
Brian Katz
Published in Issue 32